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UK Qurbani 2021 Outlook

Monday, June 21st, 2021

So we begin! No sooner has Ramadan ended then the first Qurbani queries start to come in! We outline the key considerations for consumers that will affect UK Qurbani in 2021. We cover the following in this blog.

  • Regulatory Pressures by Food Standards Agency
  • Split Eid impact on day of your Qurbani
  • Time & Date printed on your Qurbani label
  • Animal Options
  • Understanding Weights
  • Seasonal effect on supply & prices
  • 2021 Unique impact on supply & price
  • 2021 Jaz’ah Lamb Qurbani availability & eligibility
  • Covid restrictions
  • Qurbani fiqh rules & FAQs
  • Charity Qurbani
  • Order your Qurbani and Contact details

REGULATORY PRESSURES BY FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY

The Food Standards Agency is increasing pressure on the halal industry to adopt compulsory chilling of Qurbani carcasses at the abattoir rather than allowing it to chill during transport in refrigerated lorries on the way to retail butchers and in the butchers’ fridges themselves in order to facilitate consumers eating from their Qurbani as soon as possible. Requiring carcasses to be chilled at the abattoir can add ten hours to the delivery schedule but in practice means a delay of a day.

The standard regulatory requirement is for any carcass is to be chilled to a core or surface 7°C prior to dispatch from the abattoir. Historically however for Qurbani there has always been allowances because the vast majority of consumers want to prepare and consume their Qurbani meat as soon as possible for religious reasons due to the practice of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

Imam Ahmad narrated that Buraydah (may Allah swt be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah swt (peace and blessings of Allah swt be upon him) did not go out on the day of (Eid) al-Fitr until he had eaten, and he did not eat on the day of (Eid) al-Adha until he came back, then he would eat from his sacrifice.” The subsequent ruling is ‘It is best for the one who will do Qurbani that to not eat or drink anything from the dusk of dawn on the 10th of Zul Hijjah (i.e. the day of Eid/Qurbani) and when the Qurbani is done, he/she eats from its meat.’. Consumers have always requested Qurbani quickly for this reason.

If enforced the new position will reduce Qurbani capacity in the UK (as occupied chillers create a bottleneck for abattoirs fulfilling the large demand on Qurbani day) and significantly delay Qurbani delivery (abattoir chilling will take ten hours and thus in practice delay Qurbani delivery by a day). This has the potential to reduce availability and increase price.

After making representation the FSA have agreed to allow Qurbani to be taken away quickly (after an initial 30 minutes chilling) as long as customer declarations are signed/acknowledged, for both direct sales or indirect via a butcher appointed as the consumer’s agent. A consumer information leaflet [click to read] to will also be made available to consumers as a reminder of how to handle and cook their Qurbani safely. This is an interim solution until stakeholders reconvene after this year’s Qurbani and use the French authorities regulatory position as a reference to establish protocols for future years.

The FSA are also REQUIRING that Qurbani offal MUST BE CHILLED where it is sent via a butcher. This means you will not be able to get Qurbani offal but offal from a day earlier. The FSA explains they are taking this step for food safety and legislative reasons. However, they are unable to explain why this practice is permitted by the French authorities who follow the same EU regulations.

The consumer information leaflet contains a link to a survey conducted by FSA. We urge everyone to complete the survey and let FSA know what you want to be able to do in relation to your Qurbani carcass and offal.

SPLIT EID IMPACT ON DAY OF YOUR QURBANI

It is highly likely Qurbani will be on Tuesday 20th July judging by the moon-maps and the fact that the Saudi pre-calculated Ummul Qura calendar marks Tuesday as the first day of Nahr! This means Day 2 will be Wednesday and Day 3 Thursday. However the moon-maps show that the moon will not be visible at all in South Africa and will only be visible in Morocco/West Africa with optical aid. Thus there is a significant chance that the day of Eid will be split with local moon-sighters having Eid on Wednesday 21st July.

Whilst we wish and strive for unity, until we get to that point it’s important to realise that Qurbani can only be performed after YOUR Eid. Thus if your Eid is on Wednesday 21st July then you CANNOT do it on Tuesday 20th July as it will not qualify as Qurbani. Thus it is prudent to wait until 1st Dhul Hijjah is announced and you know which day you want to do Qurbani so that you can inform the butcher or slaughterhouse for them to carry it out on the correct day.

TIME & DATE PRINTED ON YOUR QURBANI LABEL

Qurbani can only begin at least 30-45 minutes after sunrise in the abattoir’s location (i.e. after Eid salah is performed). EQL prints date & time on your Qurbani carcass label (easily done with modern computer traceability systems) to provide consumers with confidence that it was performed during the eligible time and not performed prematurely. Due to significant demand too many “Qurbani” animals are slaughtered prior to Eid, thus negating the whole purpose. Animals slaughtered prematurely before Eid prayer are NOT Qurbani and are simply considered normal halal meat.

TIMING IS CRUCIAL

Please be aware and ask your butcher what assurances are there that your Qurbani was performed at the right time.

ANIMAL OPTIONS

For city slickers a reminder of animal categories and terminology is useful when deciding what Qurbani animal to offer!

Lamb – There are over 100 breeds of lamb in the UK which have adapted to the terrains, hills and mountains of Wales, England & Scotland. The average UK lamb breed is slaughtered around 6.5 months of age and weighs around 40kg. Some breeds grow quickly and can be ready for slaughter from 3 months onwards and so it is important to source the right lamb to qualify for qurbani. ONLY JAZ’AH LAMB IS ELIGIBLE FOR QURBANI – this is a balik (post-puberty) lamb which scholars judge to be over 6 months old.  EQL have long established supply chains for Jaz’ah lambs – we were the first in the UK to develop farmer declarations in 2017 when Eid was on 1st September. We receive these farmer declarations for each batch attesting that the Jaz’ah lambs meet the age criteria alongside a minimum liveweight of 40kg. Lamb meat is very soft and tender, melting in your mouth, and is the most expensive on a per kg basis. These Jaz’ah lambs are available but tricky to source so ensure your Qurbani provider has the right contacts and supply chains to provide assurance and declarations over the age of the animal.

Old Season Lamb – An older lamb typically between 9-15 months of age.. This term is used to differentiate it from the new season or spring lamb that are slaughtered from 3 months of age onwards. OSL is larger in size and age and definitely meets the Qurbani age criteria. As lamb ages, it develops more flavour but becomes less tender.

Hogget – A sub-category of Old Season Lamb where the 2 front adult teeth have erupted and with a typical age between 1-2 years. A Musinnah is mentioned in hadith as that which has (at least 2) adult teeth.

Sheep – Typically 6 years of age (but categorised as sheep once over 2 years of age) with a full mouth of old adult teeth (many are missing when they are too old!). They are larger in size & weight again. The meat has more flavour but is tougher and chewier so needs slower longer cooking. This meat is known as mutton and is the cheapest on a per kg basis.

Goat – Unlike lamb goats MUST have erupted adult teeth (i.e. Musinnah) or be at least one year old to be eligible. Kid goats (under 1 year) are ineligible.

Veal – Veal is NEVER allowed for Qurbani as cattle must be over 2 years of age (the age they typically erupt two adult teeth and become Musinnah)

UNDERSTANDING WEIGHTS

Aside from the animal types, there is great variability in the size and weight within each category. Make sure you ask for the approximate weight and what it is so you’re comparing like-for-like! There are different types of weights to consider

Liveweight – The weight of the live animal before slaughter. UK breeds have significantly different mature weights so a 6-year-old Welsh Mountain sheep will weigh significantly less than a fast-growing 4-5 month Charollais lamb. Jaza’ah lamb must be over 40kg liveweight.

Carcass weight – The weight of the carcass after slaughter with the internal organs removed. This is 40-50% of the liveweight depending on the animal category, breed, gender, fat level, confirmation, feed in-take and time of the season. Jaz’ah lamb carcass weight would be over 17kg.

Cut weight – The weight of the meat after cutting the carcass down into pieces ready for cooking, removing any excess fat, trim and bones. This is  70-80% of the carcass weight depending on how it is cut e.g. English cuts, desi cuts (for curry pieces), bone-in/boneless, fat on/off etc. Jaz’ah lamb cut weight would be over 13kg cut weight.

SEASONALITY EFFECT ON SUPPLY AND PRICES

UK lamb is predominately grass-fed. Grass is natural and cheaper than buying feed. Lamb prices peak around May time and bottom out around September time. With the Hijri date moving back 10-11 days each year Qurbani prices move back up the price curve where supply becomes tighter. Inevitably Qurbani prices will increase as the date moves back to May.

2021 UNIQUE IMPACT ON SUPPLY AND PRICE

2021 has been unprecedented for lamb prices. Brexit on 31-Dec-2020 resulted in more sheep farmers selling their livestock early and thus there was significantly less lamb available from 1st Jan 2021 onwards. The supply of lamb per head is down 8% in the year to May with sheep down nearly 25%. New Zealand exported less lamb to the UK as it sends more and more of its meat to the growing Chinese middle-class. Covid has resulted in unprecedented supermarket demand because the hospitality industry was largely in lock-down (except deliveries) – supermarket sales of lamb were up double digits on last year. The lack of UK supply plus the lack of New Zealand imports plus insatiable supermarket demand has resulted in prices averaging £30-40/head more than the previous 5 year average and around £20/head more than the highest price each week in the previous 5 years. This means short supply of livestock and high prices for the coming Qurbani season.

2021 JAZ’AH LAMB QURBANI ELIGIBILITY & AVAILABILITY

Lamb must be Jaz’ah (mature, over 6 months old) to qualify for Qurbani. 40kg liveweight is a good indicator of maturity. As UK is a long country from north-to-south, with grass-growth starting early in the south and finishing later in the north, lambs are born throughout the year but more so at peak times. To provide the maximum assurance for Qurbani only lambs that are of certain breeds, over at least 40kg and from certain regions should be considered. They should be sourced with farmer declarations that confirm the eligibility & age criteria. It is possible to source such lamb but it is not the norm so extra care and precaution must be taken when selecting the right Qurbani-provider that gives you confidence. EQL have long established supply chains for Jaz’ah lambs – we were the first in the UK to develop farmer declarations in 2017 when Eid was on 1st September. We receive these farmer declarations for each batch attesting that the Jaz’ah lambs meet the age criteria alongside a minimum liveweight of 40kg. We will have availability of Jaz’ah lambs for Qurbani but, due to short supply, they will be allocated on a strictly first come first serve basis so be sure to place your order as soon as 1st Dhul Hijjah is announced.

COVID RESTRICTIONS

With Covid and social distancing in place it is unfortunately unlikely that consumers will be allowed access to witness their Qurbani. This is to protect abattoir colleagues and FSA officials since many Qurbani consumers will travel from the cities where the incidence of Covid will be higher than in the countryside. Eid salah will also be restricted whilst precautions are implemented.

QURBANI FIQH RULES & FAQs

It is easy to forget the fiqh rules of Qurbani so check out our Qurbani rules & fiqh page to read what it’s all about. Read our FAQ page as a reminder of how we implement the fiqh at a practical level.

CHARITY QURBANI

Check out our Charity Qurbani blog 2020 here. Get in touch to discuss how to perform charity qurbani on your behalf. We work with a number of charities and food banks to distribute high-quality qurbani meat to recipients across the UK. Jaz’ah lamb, in particular, is an expensive meat which is gratefully received by those who cannot afford to buy it throughout the year.

We also make sure we communicate the value of the skin and by-products of your Qurbani and, where you give us this responsibility, we pay this to our charitable partner.

ORDER YOUR QURBANI AND CONTACT DETAILS

For UK Qurbani 2021 orders visit our Qurbani page. Prices will be released when 1st Dhul Hijjah is announced (expected to be Sunday 11th July with Eid on Tuesday 20th July). If you have any queries check out our FAQ page for answers to all common questions.

If you still have queries use our website chat function on the Qurbani pages of our website or Whatsapp  us on 07539 586612 or email online@euroqualitylambs.co.uk.

We wish you a blessed Eid and may Allah swt accept your Qurbani!

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